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Title: The development of rule-governed behaviour
Author: Sofroniou, Nicholas
ISNI:       0000 0001 3469 984X
Awarding Body: University College of North Wales, Bangor
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 1991
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Most researchers have treated the behaviour shown in equivalence as beyond the scope of Skinner's analysis of language in Verbal Behavior (1957). Sidman (1986) has put forward the notion of a four term contingency as being necessary to account for its emergent properties, whilst Hayes (in press) has interpreted equivalence behaviour as but one of a number of arbitrary patterns of relational responding he terms "relational frames". In both cases important material from Verbal Behavior remains unexplored. This thesis discusses the important properties which characterize certain types of autoclitics, extending Skinner's analysis to deal with features of equivalence, relational responding, and rule-governed behaviour. Schlinger and Blakely (1987a, 1987b) have discussed contingency-specifying stimuli (CCSs) as having a function-altering as opposed to a discriminative effect. Is is argued that this distinction is unnecessary within an autoclitic account of the action of rules. A model of the acquisition of rule-following is outlined and experimental data arising from it are examined. It develops upon Skinner's (1957, 1966) notion that verbal behaviour, whilst giving rise to the unique properties characterized by rule-governed behaviour, may itself be ultimately contingency shaped. It is proposed that in humans a number of verbal behavioural primitives, termed higher-order response classes, are first established through direct shaping. These are combined to build up a hierarchy of more complex sequences and classes, circumventing the need for direct shaping and producing the control by autoclitic phrases and instructions characteristic of verbally competent humans. This allows the establishment of new environment - behaviour relationships, and changes in the strength of existing ones, using a time and effort which is orders of magnitude less than the traditional shaping paradigm. The results of a series of experiments with young children on the acquisition of listeners, responses to negated mands and to conditional mands are presented. The conditional mand higher-order response classes are then used to build up networks of conditional relations in the manner of equivalence studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology